Public education on hypertension: A new initiative to improve the prevention, treatment and control of hypertension in Canada
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High blood pressure is one of the leading risk factors for death. Nevertheless, there is a lack of awareness of hypertension as a risk factor, as well as significant misconceptions about hypertension in the Canadian population. Furthermore, according to the Canadian Heart Health Surveys (1985 to 1992), 42% of hypertensive adult Canadians are unaware of their hypertensive status. A collaboration between Blood Pressure Canada, the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, the Canadian Hypertension Society and the Canadian Hypertension Education Program has been formed to improve public and patient awareness and knowledge of hypertension. The effort will involve the translation of Canadian Hypertension Education Program recommendations for the prevention and management of hypertension to a public level with a broad and evolving dissemination strategy; the training of health professionals to speak to the public and patients on hypertension, coupled with opportunities to speak in forums organized in their local communities; and, media releases and information on hypertension in association with World Hypertension Day and the release of the annually updated public recommendations. Based on higher rates of awareness of hypertension in countries with sustained public education programs on hypertension, it is anticipated that this evolving program will result in improvement in the rates of awareness, treatment and control of hypertension and, ultimately, in lower cardiovascular disease rates in Canada. Public health programs that could reduce the prevalence of hypertension will be integrated into key public recommendations. The program outcomes will be monitored using Statistics Canada national surveys and by specific surveys examining hypertension knowledge in the Canadian population.
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